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PORT HARCOURT— 45 out of the 65 members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, remanded at Police Headquarters, Moscow road, was on Monday, 23 January, brought before the Chief Magistrate Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers state on two count charges of “conspiracy to commit treason and acts of treasonable felony.”
The case which was defended by Barrister Ifeanyi Ejiofor and Co who applied for their bail, was between the 45 defendants and the Rivers state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Foluso Adebanjo, was after much persuasion and delay by the Police, taken to court late evening in a space of 3:45pm to 6:55pm when the court adjourned the matter for further hearing.
The 45 defendants when brought to court were divided into two and taken to separate rooms of the Magistrate Court. While 38 of them where arraigned in a different courtroom, the remaining 7 were taken to another room upstairs where their case was presided over by a different Magistrate.
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The Chief Magistrate who read out the charges held that the court has no problem with the first count charge of conspiracy to commit treason but on the second charge of treasonable felony which carries life imprisonment upon conviction.
“In the first charge, we do not have any problem with that, the court can go ahead but count two which is offence under Section 41(c) of the Federal Code upon conviction is punishable by life imprisonment, here lies the issues.
“This is a Chief Magistrate Court and statues and jurisdiction of this court must be revised for the hearing and defending of this matter of the State. Sections of the State law may also state that this Honourable Court cannot grant bail in the issue or can it?,” the Magistrate said.
Using the case of Amadi versus Chimga and others in the Supreme Court as a reference, the Magistrate held that without allowing parties to address its concerns and subsequently making a ruling on it is a miscarriage of justice, ordering Barrister Ejiofor to file written addresses and present them in court.
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On his part, Barrister Ejiofor in defense of the defendants asked the court to look into the case using Section 301 of the Constitution.
Ejiofor told the court that the Nigerian security agencies and the Police who brought the matter to court has been killing innocent people for merely exercising their rights.
|Accused IPOB Brethren In Igweocha|
According to Ejiofor, “The Police brought this case, who are killing innocent and unarmed citizens of this country...”
He also argued that when a court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain in certain matters, that it is inappropriate to approach such court.
In reaction to this, the Magistrate who interrupted his speech, advised him to serve the court written addresses so that it will look at the complaints.
“We’re not here to play to the gallery, we’re here to do law and justice is for everybody. Bring your addresses in writing, everything about the Police, everything about everybody, put it in writing, venge your liver, your kidney, put it in there, and you(to Prosecutor), write everything, join issues, bring it here and allow the court to rule; I’ll read all of them,” he said.
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Also speaking, Barrister Innocent Adoga who notified the Court that he came from Abuja, said they are ready to put and present everything which they wish the court to address in a written application
Ejiofor who prayed the court to order for the immediate treatment of the defendants before the next adjourned date said that some of them were being harmed and inflicted severe injuries with lethal guns by members of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, of the Nigerian Police and has not been offered medicare.
He said: “I understand that some of the defendants were inflicted severe injuries with guns by the SARS, and they have not been treated, the court should order for their treatment before the next adjourned date.”
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However, there was general laughter and mockery in court when the Prosecutor who denied the claims by Ejiofor said, “My Lord, am not aware of such, these are the people trying to overthrow the government of this country.”
|All Accused Seated In Court|
The Magistrate asked the Prosecutor to explain to the Court if the defendants have no right to be offered proper and adequate medical treatment.
Consequently, the Magistrate adjourned the hearing to “30th of January for adoption of written addresses meanwhile they should be remanded in prison till then.”
The Magistrate ordered the SARS officers whom were intimidating court attendants with their lethal guns and ammunitions out of the courtroom.
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The judge also ordered the Police to ensure that the defendants who were looking tattered and unkempt are well dressed in their next court appearance.
Also, in the case of the other 7 accused who was arraigned differently on counts of treason was equally represented by Barrister Ejiofor who argued for their release on account that their activities was backed by international and local laws which empowered them with inalienable rights to assembly and self-determination recognized under Articles of the African and United Nations Charter and which Nigeria is signatory to.
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Ejiofor also questioned the Court’s jurisdiction to determine the charges of treason which was opposed by the Prosecutor who retorted that the Magistrate court is first to be approached on any matter and that they have boundless evidence that the 7 accused committed treason.
But Ejiofor insisted that the Prosecutor should approach the High Court and not running to the Magistrate court to obtain orders to detain innocent people on a mere baseless and cooked up charges, adding that he is armed with video clips and pictorial evidence of their killings and molestation by the Police and other security agents.
Meanwhile there was jubilation in court premises earlier as 6 of IPOB members arrested on charges of treasonable felony since November, 2015, were discharged and acquitted by the Magistrate court yesterday for lack of merit.
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Meanwhile, Barrister Ejiofor has dispelled claims by the Rivers State Police Command that only one of the rallying IPOB youths were killed by the Command.
Addressing newsmen in Igweocha, Ejiofor said, “As of the last count, we discovered over 20 of them that were killed by the Police and arrested over 200 of them, so we’re here in court today to demand for their release and very surprisingly we found a situation whereby the Police filed charges which can be best described as frivolous and unfounded of treasonable felony against them in a smart move to cover what they have done.
“You’ll recall that on the 20th of January, the Indigenous People of Biafra, embarked on a peaceful rally in support of the inauguration of the US President Donald Trump. This rally was never at any time turned into violence, it was peacefully conducted in exercise of their constitutional powers as provided in Section 40 of the Constitution and in the course of that rally, Police opened fire and live ammunition on unarmed innocent people and killed them in numbers, so the Police lied in their statement.”
Reporting From Igweocha
Published By Nwosu C.S
For Biafra Writers.